Food Drive Hopes To Feed Hundreds

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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with people getting into the holiday spirit of giving.

And once again, the Payson Lioness Club is organizing the Community Christmas Food Drive with the idea of giving to the needy in the area.

Beginning Monday, people who are down on their luck, who are unemployed or underemployed, sick, or disabled, can sign up for a food box at the Department of Economic Security (DES) around the corner from Bashas'.

Jan Parsons, one of the organizers of the food drive, said the group operates by Community Action Program (CAP) poverty guidelines.

Volunteers will be at DES to take applications from individuals and families to help make the holidays a little brighter.

Last year, the group helped about 300 families. Parsons said she anticipates that number to be a little lower this year.

"I would hope so," she said. "When you have fewer, that means everybody's doing fine. But we're there to try to help them."

Help comes in many forms.
The Community Christmas Food Drive application also includes information for Santa's List, formerly known as the Payson Toy Drive.

"I give my lists to Brenda Martell with Santa's List," Parsons said. Santa's List provides toys for all the children.

Special requests from children go on one of the community's three Angel Trees, which will be located at Wal-Mart, Country Kitchen, and Cable Vision.

"Santa's List also accommodates those over the age of 60," Parsons said. "If they have special requests, they go on the Angel Tree, too."

On Dec. 19, the Lioness Club will be packing nonperishable food items at the Rim Country Middle School at 304 S. Meadow St.

"Fortunately, this year the Payson High School wrestlers will be helping us," Parsons said. She said anyone else who wants to help pack boxes is welcome to join the group.

On Dec. 23, the group will pack the perishable food -- meat, produce and dairy products -- at the school on Meadow starting at 6 a.m.

Parsons is putting out a plea for volunteers to help with the packing.

"We anticipate feeding about 250 families in Payson, Star Valley and Young," she said.

Volunteers with the Pine-Strawberry Food Pantry, which is the area's Food Bank, will be putting together packages for folks in the Pine-Strawberry area for Christmas. Kiwanis will be providing Christmas toys for needy children in the area. Interested persons can contact Anne Eme at 476-3735. People who would like food baskets can call Joy Knapheide at 476-3042 or Anne Eme.

John Dryer, a Kiwanis member, said the Kiwanis Club of Tonto Basin will be providing help for people in their area with a Secret Santa Tree this year. A child gets an application for the tree and gets to list his or her top three choices for gifts.

The requests are distributed among the Kiwanis members and businesses in and around Tonto Basin. Dryer said the group is getting some help with their list from the school. Throughout the year, the Kiwanis Club provides for other needs for school children.

Interested parties may pick up applications for the Secret Santa Tree at the Butcher Hook Store in Tonto Basin by Dec. 7. Donations can also be brought to the Butcher Hook. For information, call Norma Cline at 479-2226.

People who apply for food and gifts in Payson can also get additional help.

Parsons said there are groups and individuals who want to adopt a family. These people often provide Christmas trees and decorations and other things that are needed.

"We have a lot of people who like to adopt," Parsons said. "I can only give them the names of people who have said they want to be referred."

The names of the applicants are left off the packages of food and toys and each is given a number.

People with special needs, babies, vegetarians and others, are given individual attention.

"This is a community food drive," Parson said. "Any clubs and individuals who want to help are more than welcome."

Monetary donations can be sent to the Christmas Food Basket Fund, c/o Payson Lioness Club, P.O. Box 2064, Payson, AZ 85547.

Nonperishable food items can be brought to St. Vincent de Paul/Payson Food Bank at St. Philip's Church 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

People who fill out the applications sign up for food and gifts for children. They can sign up at the DES office from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30 through Dec. 11. The office is closed on weekends.

Those who are homebound can call Jan Parsons at 474-7645 to apply.

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